Journalism shouldn’t be beaten down by talk of ‘fake news’

The last thing I need to bring up in this space would probably be President Donald Trump.

Here goes anyway. Please try to read this objectively. I tried to write it with the same care.
Over the weekend, one of Trump’s tweets became big news. I guess I need to be more specific since @realDonaldTrump seems to garner its fair share of headlines — fairly or unfairly.

For those not into technology or for those who try to avoid these news items, I’ll explain. Trump tweeted an edited video clip that showed him during a guest appearance with World Wrestling Entertainment. In the clip, he’s shown to be performing a wrestling maneuver on a person with a CNN logo over the top of the body’s head.

Real classic guy humor.

I guess I didn’t really find it funny. More so, I found it disheartening.

Not because I think this advocated attacks on journalist. That’s silly and not at all what a clip like this does.

I ended up disappointed because it furthered the divide between the American people and journalism — a good honest profession that seems pretty much literally thankless at this point in time. Sure, I’m a journalist by trade so maybe I’m taking it a little too personally.

However, the era of “fake news” and “dishonest media” only furthers the problems of a troubled industry.

Journalism has fought and will continue to fight the effects of technology. This fight stems from not only finding a way to make money in the age of the internet but also how to adjust to the increasing availability of the product.

The financial issues are old news at this point. I won’t waste more space on that.

The issue some don’t see is the change in the news cycle and the way stories/images/videos are consumed. The accusations of fake news often stem from quick reports before all facts are readily available.

Once a story goes out, screen grabs and cached history make anything permanent. This didn’t used to be a problem because reporting was done over a full workday or in some cases workdays before being published.

That’s not longer an option.

Readers expect news to be out fast and complete, which creates a conundrum. Hold back the report and it’s asked why you were so late to address the issue. Put it out quick and update as more information becomes available, and you are catering to an agenda.

Look, I won’t tell you that inherent biases don’t exist. That’s true no matter how much you preach neutrality. 

I know I do my best to be as balanced and fair as possible.

If anything, I will continue to make it known that I welcome all voices in this newspaper. We don’t always have to agree, but I certainly welcome engaged dialogue.

What I don’t want to see is all journalism and newspapers lumped together as “fake news.”
Say what you want about CNN, Fox News or ESPN. Just know that we strive to be an informative source of information on what goes on in Platte County. 

We strive to report the news as news and let you, the valued reader, form the opinions.

Mistakes will happen. But you didn’t always have to worry about being caught in an inaccuracy with an early report beyond your immediate reach.

Corrections and retractions have always been a part of journalism and still should be. I just know that ability for the masses to judge and stereotype based on errors has become much easier.

Media remains important in America, even if you’d occasionally like to collectively deliver a Stone Cold Stunner to our entire profession. Just remember these are people trying to do a job, not a single entity being kicked in a video caricature.

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.